Written and by
Running Time: 1:51
for strong graphic bloody violence and gore,
pervasive language, some sexuality,
nudity and drug use.
Death Proof was a tale of two films... the first half slow, the second half much more entertaining.
In the first half of the film, a group of girls are heading towards a night at a lake house. On the way they decide to pre-game at a couple of bars and have some fun. Unfortunately for them, they run into one Stuntman Mike, whose hobbies include crashing cars, and killing women. In the second half of the film, a group of girls are on a vacation from a movie they're working on. One of them wants to test drive a car she saw for sale in a newspaper. Unfortunately, they run into Stuntman Mike, whose hobbies haven't changed all that much. However this time, Stuntman Mike may have bitten off more than he can chew.
I never saw the combined Grindhouse films in the theater, so watching Death Proof didn't give me the experience I know directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez wanted us to have. The first half of Death Proof moved along very slowly. In fact, for the first 45 minutes, nothing really happened beyond a bunch of talking. However, the movie was shot in a more old school, 'grindhouse' style. The film was scratchy, the dialogue didn't always synch up correctly, there were shots that were repeated or 'missing.' It was what I imagined the two directors had in mind when they came up with the double feature concept. The problem is, the underlying story was kind of boring. Maybe that's how these kinds of films were, but beyond nothing happening, Stuntman Mike's need to kill random women didn't make much sense. Tarantino is known more for his writing than his directing, and the film was full of the quirky conversations and dialogue that he's become famous for. But as there was no real story to hang on to, I felt kind of bored. Until Stuntman Mike looked into the camera and laughed. Then, the first half of the movie really kicked into gear for a few minutes and ended with a horrific crash sequence.
The second half of the film suddenly became clear. The film was no longer scratchy, there were no flash cuts, no scenes that repeated. It started off in black & white, but then morphed into beautiful color. The story picked up as well, as the four women in this half of the film were much more engaging and entertaining. The four women in this half of the film were much more worldly than the others. They were tough and weren't going to take any crap from any guy. Because the movie just looked better visually, I found myself enjoying it more. But also the camera work seemed to be more frenetic. There was one 8-minute sequence where the girls were sitting around a table having a long conversation, and the camera just kept going around in circles. There were no edits, just constant movement. And then of course there was the world-class chase scenes at the end. Hiring Zoe Bell to play herself was a stroke of genius since you could have one of your actors actually do their own insane stunts. The entire chase sequence was easily the highlight of the film and definitely made up for the earlier slower moments.
There were plenty of extras on the DVD, but nothing all that worthwhile. The documentaries were all mostly Tarantino getting excited about either Kurt Russell, or the girls in the film, or the stuntmen or his editor. There were no deleted scenes, no outtakes, nothing of any value. And where were those famous fake trailers I had heard so much about? Will they show up on the Planet Terror DVD? With an accomplisher writer/director like Tarantino, I would have hoped the extras would be more insightful and not just a long cheering section.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I thought Death Proof was in the middle. The first half was slow and uninteresting until the very end. The second half picked up tremendously and ended with a huge bang. However, I wish they had released the films together so I could have enjoyed the complete Grindhouse experience.
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